A few weeks ago, knowing her fondness for ice-cream, he saw a tub of Nobó ice cream in the freezer section and popped that in the basket. A week later, he was back home and asked his Mum how she enjoyed the Nobó "Oh, I didn't like it at all, dear, I threw it away". Ho hum, I guess the older generation [I soon won't be able to use that phrase, as our parents shuffle off and my generation steps up to the plate for the final play of the game] is quite conservative in their tastes. Isn't it also true that as we age, our taste-buds fall off, and we're reduced to requiring a snow of salt and/or lashings of sugar to taste anything at all at all.
On cue last weekend, along with fruit crumble dessert, a little tub of Fresh Lemon Nobó made its appearance, along with Créme Fraiche and plain yoghurt. When we were all growing up in the 60s, none of that would be available, except the fruit crumble, which would have been served with either
- a ferociously yellow [prev yellow confection] gloop made from milk, sugar and Bird's Custard Powder [cornflour + colouring]
- fresh cream, possibly whipped
- plain vanilla ice-cream which would have been flat white in Ireland or pale yellow in England
There is no doubt that gluten intolerance exists. It is an auto-immune pathology called coeliac disease and can cause distressing feelings of bloating and abdominal discomfort because the intestinal flora cannot handle certain of the wheat storage proteins. I've never heard of anyone dying of coeliac disease although the symptoms are persistent and no fun. There may even be a coeliac "epidemic", in that the incidence seems to have increased up to 5-fold over the last 50 years. But that's from a very low base: was 0.2% in the USA, now scraping 1%; and up to 3% in some Scandinavian countries. This could be more diagnoses as parents and GPs get to recognise the symptoms and/or it could be a 'real' increase driven by changes in the weaning pattern in The West. Or from the wholesale turn-over destruction of the gut flora with repeated doses of oral antibiotics for sniffles and ears ache?
There is far better evidence that lactose intolerance exists, indeed it is the norm in human adults. From an evolutionary mammalian perspective, milk is a super food for infants: every dietary requirement from 0 to 6 months supplied in a one-stop stop. After about six months - as the teeth start to erupt! - the poor old breasts are no long sufficient to supply the growing monster, and extra food needs to be supplied. Lactose, milk sugar, is a disaccharide, as is sucrose, cane sugar, but it consists of glucose and galactose rather than glucose and fructose. Lactose is sweet and delicious but requires an enzyme called lactase to break the bond between the two mono-saccharides as the first step in converting everything to glucose which is the basic internal sugar currency for mammals. In the normal development of most humans, the genes that go to make lactase are switched off when they are no longer required shortly after weaning. In a few human cultures, 10 or 20,000 years ago, some bright spark had the idea of domesticating certain artiodactyl species - cows, sheep and goats mainly - and feeding on their nutritious mammary exudates.
from UCL] shows that there are 3 foci where this mutation is at all common: Northern Europe, West Africa and the Middle East. In Ireland pretty much everyone - code red on the map is >90% - can convert milk sugar, and Chicago policemen with lactose intolerance are exceedingly rare. If you're Chinese, say, or Ashkenazi Jewish or a !ung bushman from the Kalahari, you really shouldn't try ice-cream as you'll find it is 'too runny'.
I know one case of milk allergy, which is different from lactose intolerance, this chap's lips puff up at the least touch of dairy like people who are peanut allergic. Allergic reactions can be fatal and should be taken very seriously. In Ireland, the genetic epidemiology suggests that almost all of the half of my Irish friends who are faddy and demanding in their diet are really suffering from a First World problem. They should try spending a few months in an Ethiopian refugee camp where the EU is unloading its powdered milk lake and wheat mountain. It will be like a medieval witch trial, the true coeliacs and Jews will die, and the neurotic will come back to eat buttermilk scones like the rest of us.
Mais revenons nous a nos Nobós. Nobó, like Deliveroo, was gestated in NYC where everything is available !instantly! but born in Ireland: the brain child of Rachel and Brian Nolan. They are young and hip and media-savvy - nowhere on the Nobó website, for example, does it mention their last name: surnames are for old people. As we've seen above, old people are not the demographic for Nobó. Like Deliveroo, the website is slick and band-width heavy: movie clips, big graphics, luscious pictures and engaging style. If you're accessing the web from a dial-up in Bangalore - if you work in the call-centre for an Irish insurance company, say - then you'll get a lot hungrier before you download the information about a local stockist. But $2-a-day men are not the demographic either.
the zoomable stockists map so you can pick up the nearest Nobó-shop from your smartphone]. Four in the vicinity of the Dubai Marina for example [L]. I guess either Brian or Rachel has an enterprising cousin out in the Middle East.
I make something of a blood-sport reviewing craziness in the food industry but I will say for Nobó is that the ingredients are pared down to the essentials. Ice-cream usually has a quite frightening table of contents: E-numbers, emulsifiers, guar-gum, stabilisers, colours. But this isn't ice-cream, 'tis a long way from cream it was r'ared, it's a new confection based on the saturated fats in coconut milk and avocado rather than on saturated animal fat and lactose. The product list is, currently, trim as well. Six varieties:
- Choc and toasted almonds
- Coconut Milk, Honey, Avocado, Cocoa Powder, Water, Toasted Almonds, Irish Sea Salt
- Fresh lemon
- Coconut milk, honey, avocado, fresh lemon juice 6%, vanilla extract, pure lemon oil
- Passion fruit and mango
- Coconut milk, honey, passionfruit 11%, mango 8%, avocado, vanilla extract
- Irish salted caramel
- Coconut milk, coconut sugar 13%, brown rice syrup, avocado, vanilla extract, Irish sea salt 1%
- Mint humbug
- Coconut milk, coconut sugar, brown rice syrup, avocado, vanilla extract, peppermint oil 1%
- Vanilla coconut
- Coconut-milk (71%), honey, avocado, vanilla extract (2%)